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What happened in Spin Boldak’s Luqman village?

What happened in Spin Boldak’s Luqman village?

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On
May 07, 2017 - 16:51

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok):  A peculiar silence prevailed on Sunday in the Luqman village of Spin Boldak border town of southern Kandahar province following Friday’s deadly clashes between Afghan and Pakistani forces.

Hundreds of families fled homes as a result of the clashes that left at least 11 people dead and more than 40 injured, mostly civilians.

The main bazaar in Spin Boldak has been closed since Friday’s skirmish and passengers remained stranded on roads and hotels, waiting for the border crossing to be reopened.

The exchange of fire has been ceased, but security forces have established bunkers in homes vacated by people in the Luqman village.

Besides border police, other forces including the Afghan National Army troops in armored vehicles have filled the village’s streets.

However, the Pakistani forces could also been just 100 metres away from the Afghan forces. The Pakistani forces have taken positions on rooftops of mud-made homes across the border.

Nearby the remains of a Pakistani armored vehicle which was destroyed during the clashes lay on the ground.

On Sunday, two days after the clashes, journalists were taken to the Luqman village which is situated in the zero point area, the scene of the bloody clashes.

The journalists travelled from Kandahar City, the provincial capital, to Spin Boldak border town, about 100km from the city.

On reaching Luqman village, the journalists were stopped by police and after some investigation, the police accompanied the reporters on a zigzag route to the frontline.

Security forces were in control of the entire area and some civilians, who remained but evacuated their families to safety, were also seen.

A resident of Luqman village, Abdul Samad, who was standing in front of his home, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “It was midnight, we all were asleep when suddenly an exchange of weapons fire began.”

He said both the sides used heavy and light weapons and children were crying as fears mounted.

He said at the start they had been unable to understand what was going on. The clashes became fierce and there had been gunfire from every direction.

Later, it appeared that Afghan and Pakistani border forces had clashed and fresh forces had reached the scene, he said.

As reports about people suffering injuries in the conflict started pouring in, Abdul Samad shifted his family to a secure place.

He said the clash had ended but families who had fled homes were still reluctant to return because they feared more clashes.

Samad said the villagers suffered casualties and damages to their homes. One woman was killed and 23 people, including womeninfo-icon and children, were being treated for their injuries in hospital.

The journalists were taken further closer to the zero point area. Border guards and other forces of the two countries have taken positions about 100 metres from each other with fingers on the trigger.

The journalists were talking with security officials about the attack when Border Police Quick Reaction Force commander Col. Haji Janan arrived.

He was asked questions like how the clash started? Who provoked it and how is the situation now?

The commander said: “At about 3:45 on Friday morning our forces noticed Pakistani armored vehicles crossing the border and entereing Afghanistaninfo-icon territory, we warned them, but they did not stop, we warned them again repeatedly and eventually they (Pakistani forces) started firing at us and we retaliated, thus the clash began.”

He said the exchange of fire continued until 3pm when the high command ordered ceasefire.

Col. Janan pointed to a burnt armored vehicle and said it was hit by the Afghan forces. He said bullets from the cross border firing had hit many civilian homes. A woman was killed and 23 other people were wounded in the incident that left four Afghan border police dead and 14 others wounded.

Janan said the clashes had caused casualties on the other side of the border but they had no exact figures.

He said more than 1000 families had fled Luqman village to safety. About the actual cause of the border skirmish, the commander said the clash came days after Afghan forces prevented a Pakistani census team from conducting the census exercise in the village which he claimed was on this side of the border.

He said though the exchange of fire had stopped yet their forces were on high alert and awaited order from their leaders.

An eerie silence has gripped the nearby Spin Boldak bazaar which wore a deserted look on Sunday as all businesses had come to grinding halt following the deadly clashes.

With no sign of vehicles on the road, thousands of travelers, mostly patients, were waiting for the border crossing and the road to be reopened.

Agha Jan, an elderly man, told Pajhwok Afghan News that he had come to Spin Boldak from southern Zabul province two days ago. He wanted to travel to Quetta city of Pakistaninfo-icon’s Balochistan province for treatment of his stomach.

He said a large number of people, including children, had rented rooms in hotels waiting for the border’s reopening.

Ahmad Shah, another commuter, said his family was living in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi and he had come to Afghanistan as a guest. He said he wanted to return to Pakistan but the border was closed.

He said he was running out of money and could not afford stay in hotel and his family in Karachi was upset about him.

The border closure has badly affected local businesses. Pehlawan, a trader in Spin Boldak, said Pakistan closed the border for many times during the past one year, causing millions of afghanis loss to Afghan traders.

He said a large number of vehicles loaded with food and non-food items were stranded on both sides of the border as they were not allowed to proceed. He called on both the countries to keep politics away from trade.

People’s hopes were shattered yesterday when a second meeting between Afghan and Pakistani officials on the border issue produced no results.

ma

 

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